20 Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today I said good-bye to my father for the last time.  Officially, he will have passed away on July 24, 1994 just before one o'clock in the morning.  I said my final farewell the evening before in a sterile hospital room filled with family, no privacy for the matter.  I whispered "good bye"; I gave him a kiss on his lips.  He never responded.  I promptly walked out of the room and stood against the wall until I could no longer stand before sliding down the wall while crying.  A nurse passed by me and made some exclamation along the lines of "poor girl".  She asked me if I wanted a Popsicle.  I have spent many years wondering when my last real good-bye was, the responsive one anyway.  I do not even remember how many days my dad was comatose, but that last real good-bye would have been just before the coma.  I do not remember many of the gritty details anymore; it is probably a good thing.  The only good bye I have to remember was a kiss upon unresponsive lips. 

It was twenty years ago today that my Aunt Jo Ann offered to take my brothers and I to her home for food and rest.  I do not know why I said yes, but I did.  She took my older brother home while my younger brother and I went to her house.  That house...it has seen more tragedy than a home should.  I slept in my cousin Sara's room with her.  Sara, who passed away in that house in January this year, was so kind to me.  My junior by 9 years or so, she refused to let me sleep on the floor.  I would find out that following morning that my dad was gone as my aunt sat next to me on her sofa while gingerly giving me the news.  To be honest, I had known before she even said the words.

It was twenty years ago today that I realized my life would be different.  I had known this time was coming.  This death was from an illness that took its time and crept into my dad for years.  He was 39 when he died.  I knew it was coming.  Nevertheless, until the moment I kissed my dad good-bye, that very last time...it was just another day to get through.  That last time I left the hospital was when I knew things would never be the same.

It was twenty years ago today I said good-bye to him.  I do not know what my life would be like if he were still here.  There is no point in imagining it.  Regardless, it has been twenty years of missing the best parts about my dad.  It has been twenty years of consoling others while saying, "the pain never goes away, but it does get easier" because I actually know.  It has been twenty years of life moving on without him.

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